From VbGORE Visual Basic Online RPG Engine
World design is a tricky subject. It is arguably the most important aspect of your game. World design will determine if your players are in a futuristic wasteland, a medieval town, or second dimension.
When you are first designing your game, you need to think of a setting. If you change your mind half way through production, you're going to have a hard time adapting the game to your new idea. Creating a game isn't easy when it comes to impressing the players, think like you are a player yourself and what would be a good idea. When making a website for your Game, add polls and feedback on what would be great from a players point of view. Don't add new features just because you think they're good, remember you may have a lot of players that have different ideas and points of view.
The Time Period
You need to decide fairly early on which time period your story is going to take place. There are quite a few time periods to choose from:
Fantasy : Magic, Elves, dragons, unicorns, and other magical creatures are staples of this time period. Anything you can imagine can appear in a Fantasy time period.
Medieval : Castles, kings, swords, knights, princesses in danger, and the dirty peasant are staples of this time period. This differs from the Fantasy time period in that there is no magic or fantasy creatures to be found.
Industrial : This time period mimics the industrial era of civilizations, where machinery is brand new and organized crime runs rampant. There is a variation of this theme called Steam Punk.
Modern : Guns, evil corporations, office buildings, cars, and anything else you can find in our current time period can appear in your game.
Sci-Fi : This time period could be any point in history, but is usually associated with the future. It can include aliens, space travel, science experiments that went horribly wrong, etc.
You can mix and match any of these time periods (or include them all) in your game. For example, the king of a country is an Elf, and he lives in his condo at the top of his corporate building headquarters and his best friend is an alien from some strange planet. Be careful if you plan on mixing time periods! Building may get hard and game play can get confusing if wrong periods are mixed. EXAMPLE- You wouldn't want to mix Industrial with Medieval but mixing Fantasy and Industrial is a better choice.
The landscape is also a very important part of world design. The landscape is all the important parts of your world, including all the towns and dungeon locations. If the world doesn't make sense to the players, they won't have any fun exploring it. Try to keep things simple for the most part, and save the most complex designs for the hardest areas of the game. Don't use any mazes unless there is a reason the area should be a maze. Players that are lost in an area will become frustrated and might even quit playing the game.
Having a good design plan before you even start making the maps is a good idea. Draw the maps down on paper to make it easier to create them for your game.
Depending on your time period, try to have names that match acordingly.
Buildings are also a very important part of the design. Making sure that your buildings match with the time period and/or with the plot is good. It will help the player understand the game more.
There are many types of buildings:
Shops generally have larger doors along with Signs on them. Sometimes they have goods being displayed in front, and are found in the town's most busiest areas. Shops' sizes depend on their type. They usually are not too big compared to other buildings.
Depending on your time period, they maybe construted out of diffrent materials. For example, Medieval shops could be made out of bricks, with a wooden door.
When making homes, try to be consistant with your look. Althought you do not want them to all look the same, give them certin characteristics so they can be distinguished from other buildings.
Here are some other good tips to follow: 1) When making a building that most of your other towns will also have, it is suggested that you add a reconizable sign on them. E.g: Hospitals, ect should have a large sign accross them so that players will be able to tell what they are. 2) When creating towns, cites, ec, also try to place some peaceful areas too, like fountains, town squares, ect. This promotes other player to meet with friends there. If your game is more on the battle-side, then don't add to much of these areas.
How much magic you want put into your game is a detail that needs to be worked out before you start creating. If you start with a No Magic setting and want to add magic to your world, that's not really that big of a problem. However, if you have a High Magic setting and you want to change it to a No Magic setting, you're going to have a whole lot of angry players.
In this setting, there is no magic at all in the game. This can still be a fantasy setting, however. For example, Dwarves can still be master craftsmen, their weapons just won't have any magical properties. Better weapons and armor are usually called "masterwork" weapons or armor and are better than their normal counterparts. Note that potions are not magical, but alchemical, so this setting can still have healing potions or poisons. Jewelry is mostly for decoration purposes, but can be very valuable when selling to a merchant.
Magical abilities can only be performed by a select few, or maybe only by a single race of humanoids (Elves might be the only race that can cast spells, for example). Magical items are very rare, if they exist at all, and are owned by the most powerful or richest people in the game, and might be all but impossible for a player character to acquire. Depending on the story, spell casters are either very important people, or they are persecuted for being different. The player characters in this setting are not usually allowed to be spell casters. Most magic items are some sort of jewelry, with the ring being the most common. Magic weapons are common, also, but not as common as jewelry. Magic armor is almost unheard of, and sometimes very strong non-magical armor is mistaken as being magical in some way. (The Lord of the Rings is very good example of a Low Magic setting.)
This is the setting between Low Magic and High Magic. Magic items are more common, but they are still hard to come by. More people are able to cast spells, and it is even possible that there are schools that can teach ordinary people how to cast spells. (The Forgotten Realms Dungeons and Dragons campaign setting and Harry Potter are good examples of Mid Magic settings.)
In this setting, it is not uncommon that every single person in the world can cast some spell or another. Warriors might be able to cast a spell that gives them better strength, or be able to imbue their weapons with elemental powers, for example. Weapons and armor with no magical properties are largely considered to be inferior and are almost never used. New characters almost always start with at least one magical item in their inventory. (The Final Fantasy series is a good example of a High Magic setting.)
When it comes to the Game make it simple at first, then improve as you go along. Alot of players can get very frustrated when it comes to Leveling and so on.. Once you think your game has the basic structure and theme, add more ideas and features as your players come. And don't overcrowd your game with objects such as Trees, Players would want a clean game with many options, quests that isnt to difficult. Let the player choose what he wants to do and not give him few options that will lead to Boredom or Frustration.